The panel dives into Ole Miss' chances in SEC West, projects playoff teams
1. Ole Miss has another test this week at Texas A&M. Do the Rebels have what it takes to make it out of the SEC West or will they come back down to earth this weekend or at some point in the future?
♦ Hotty Toddy -- Ole Miss, by damn, has a 50-50 shot at winning at Texas A&M on Saturday. That said, I don't believe the Rebs will make it out of the SEC West. Still to come is on-the-come Tennessee (No. 33 in total defense, if you haven't noticed), at LSU (32nd), Auburn (14th), at Arkansas, then the annual grudge match against Mississippi State. I just don't see Ole Miss making it through that gauntlet unscathed. I think there's a better chance that Katy Perry makes a return engagement at the Grove than Ole Miss trekking to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
♦ I love Bo Wallace. I do. But part of the reason I do is his ego and alter-ego Good Bo and Bad Bo. This isn't a criticism or said to denounce the Ole Miss QB in any way, but it's fact to consider: Bo Wallace may win or lose the Rebels a game at any moment. He’s the most erratic quarterback in college football from performance to performance. He played a gem of a game against Alabama, but he’s as likely to throw the game-winning touchdown for either team with two minutes to go. He's the natural, Southern evolution of Tommy Rees. And with such a combustible variable at the helm, I sincerely question if Ole Miss can continue this streak.
♦ Ole Miss will lose this weekend. Even though the Rebels are a team that only allows 10 points a game, they’re playing a team that scores damn near 50. This game will turn into a shootout and if Bo Wally needs to go punch for punch with Kenny Hill, I can assure you that Sunshine (Wallace) hits the deck first. I get that Magnolia Fever has spread fast in this country, but come next week no eyes will be on the crooked letter. That being said, if Ole Miss does escape College Station with a win, it will roll right through Tennessee and LSU until those dream-crushers come to town from Auburn.
Duane Cross: I think everyone likes Bo Wallace in the same vein as they like Marshall Henderson -- it's a party until someone makes a mistake. Ole Miss needed that win against Alabama (and boy, did the student body partake in sucking the marrow out of that bone!) -- but it's one game. There's a long road to go in the SEC West.
Brendan Bures: Do we actually know how good Texas A&M is at this point? The Aggies are No. 13 but a majority of that ranking comes from last season's performance and smacking South Carolina, who just lost to Kentucky. And Hill got outplayed by Heisman frontrunner Dak Prescott last week. Ole Miss beating Texas A&M this week and making it to Auburn unscathed isn't that far out of the question
Duane Cross: No, we don't know how good A&M is -- but the Aggies aren't as good as they showed against South Carolina, not as bad as they showed against Mississippi State. Would it surprise me if Ole Miss beats A&M -- no. I'm not sold on the Aggies being a playoff contender. But it's a road game in the SEC; Ole Miss will have to win the turnover margin, force Hill into making mistakes and then capitalize.
Gerard Gilberto: I don’t trust Bo Wallace. Yes, there is something wrong with a team that only plays offense (it usually means they don’t play very well on D). But if we're going back into the ancient history that is Week 1 then I’ll have to direct you to Mr. Wallace’s performance’s against Boise State. The dude looked like Notre Dame's Everett Golson and Stanford's Kevin Hogan last week in the rain trying to hold that football. Must have been real wet out in the Georgia Dome.
Brendan Bures: Also, I'm not that impressed with Ole Miss beating Alabama. It was an exciting victory, especially for Ole Miss, but Alabama has lost to the past three ranked opponents it has faced (dating back to the Iron Bowl). Great win, gutty performance by Good Bo, but this week has proven that who is and isn't elite this year is an ever-shifting bullseye.
2. Auburn and Mississippi State's matchup have most people's attention on Saturday. What's a sleeper game that fans should keep an eye on?
Brendan Bures: I'm interested in Clemson-Louisville. The Cardinals were supposed to be a top football contender within the ACC since realignment, but that hasn't really happened. Also, I know it's 3-2, but Clemson should be ranked. Deshaun Watson is legit, and the offense is humming. How long can a freshman keep that going?
Duane Cross: Duke-Georgia Tech -- it'll be interesting to see if Tech can remain unbeaten. And while Duke is 4-1, it's been a lot quieter around the Blue Devils this year. I believe that'll be a nice way to kick off another good Saturday.
Gerard Gilberto: Watch USC finally wake up and take down No. 10 Arizona. This team is not as bad as its played in its two losses. And the team that’s best suited to stop a Hail Mary is the team that's given one up in the past.
Duane Cross: G-Man, you're on the right track. If there's an upset brewing, it's USC taking down Zona. The Trojans are a few plays away from being 5-0 and in the thick of the playoff talk.
Gerard Gilberto: Clemson will work its way back into that little list of names this week when they beat the Cards, no worry. Especially when Washington State beats No. 25 Stanford.
Duane Cross: Clemson returns to the top 25 on Sunday; the Tigers will clip the Cards' wings and Dabo will be the toast of South Carolina once again. Realistically, does anyone see Clemson losing for the rest of the year?
Gerard Gilberto: Head Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier) will tear out their hearts, I’m sure.
Brendan Bures: Not really. South Carolina has an aroma to it this year, sorry HBC. But there is always the distinct possibility of Clemson Clemsoning, so anything possible. (Although Clemson might've done all their Clemsoning against Florida State this year. That was a Clemsoning for the ages.)
Gerard Gilberto: Clemson gonna Clemson.
3. If the playoffs were to start today, which four teams should the selection committee pick and why?
Gerard Gilberto: Mississippi, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi and South Central Mississippi State U! Magnolia fever, baby! No but seriously, none of those teams (real or imaginary) will make the CFP. I would say Florida State, Auburn, Baylor and Notre Dame. Admittedly, one of the ‘Sippis could take ND’s place but I think the Irish got an unfair shake of it with this last AP poll.
Duane Cross: The best four teams today are Florida State, Auburn, Mississippi State and Baylor. I can't believe I said FSU but the Noles are unbeaten as of today. Auburn may very well win the CFP. Mississippi State is more impressive than Ole Miss with the eye test. Baylor is a bear, no pun intended.
Brendan Bures: Right now, and it's incredibly early to still tell, I think FSU and Auburn are headed for a national championship rematch. If Florida State beats Notre Dame (and I disagree with Gerard, I think ND is where it should be as of now), it should run the table. And as much as an anti-narrative has been building against the Noles, they're still on a 19-game unbeaten streak and have had one of the tougher early season schedules. As of now, I'd fill out the CFP with Miss St. and Baylor.
Duane Cross: Notre Dame got an "unfair shake"? The Irish moved from ninth to sixth after a three-point win against lower-ranked Stanford.
Gerard Gilberto: Alright fine, ND is where it belongs; should the Mississippis have jumped Baylor?
Duane Cross: Yes -- based on the teams, Alabama and Texas A&M, that Ole Miss and Mississippi State knocked off and the fashion in which both took care of business.
Brendan Bures: Yes. Baylor's biggest win this year is against Texas, who's rebuilding under new head coach Charlie Strong. We'll see who really controls the Big 12 this year when No 5 Baylor and No. 9 TCU face off (although I expect TCU to take down Baylor).
Gerard Gilberto: I disagree, I think Baylor is much better than that. I think the Bears win the Big 12 in a full season, not just an imaginary six week season like this. They will beat TCU this week and Oklahoma on Nov. 8.
Brendan Bures: Also, you could talk me into a one-loss Mississippi State team jumping over the Pac-12 or Big 12 conference winner. The Bulldogs have one of the toughest schedules in college football this season.
Duane Cross: Brendan, I'll agree -- Mississippi State has one of the toughest schedules -- and disagree ... Florida State did not have one of the tougher early season schedules.
Gerard Gilberto: FSU made Oklahoma State look good and it played Clemson with a back-up quarterback. In FSU’s defense, the “squeaker” they won last week was actually a blowout.
Brendan Bures: Scheduling a game in Dallas against Oklahoma State to open the season, then a game down your starting quarterback against Clemson, a team you just said is a top-25 team, possibly better? And y'all can make fun of NC State as much as you want, but that's one of those tough inner-conference rivalries, like Tennessee-Georgia. While other teams were facing FCS and lower FBS competition, FSU was facing legitimate teams.
Gerard Gilberto: Might have something to do with not playing a difficult team.
Brendan Bures: One team you could convincingly argue had tougher early season schedule up until a week ago was Georgia. One top-10 game last week does not mean you had a "tougher" early season schedule.
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